Environmental & Social Ecology of Human Infectious Diseases (ESEI)

Mosquito feeding on blood

The Environmental & Social Ecology of Human Infectious Diseases programme will enable society to respond proactively to the threat from novel pathogens and emerging infections by generating knowledge on the ways in which the natural and social environments affect the emergence and spread of infectious disease. The programme recognises that important new insights into the drivers and control of infectious diseases in human populations can only be achieved by taking a holistic systems approach.

This a joint initiative between NERC, MRC, ESRC and BBSRC and has been designed to contribute to the NERC Environment, Pollution & Human Health theme and the Living With Environmental Change (LWEC) strategic objective on protecting human, plant and animal health from diseases, pests and environmental hazards.

Through this programme NERC have also been able to contribute to another programme: Zoonoses & Emerging Livestock Systems (ZELS).

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Our world is changing at an unprecedented rate resulting in changing patterns of infectious diseases. As recently exemplified by H1N1(Mex), the emergence of a pandemic strain of influenza or other virulent pathogen remains an on-going threat to human health.

As identified by the Foresight Detection & Identification of Infectious Diseases (DIID) Project, we need to respond to the threat from new and emerging pathogens so that we are better able to anticipate, prepare for, and control future outbreaks.

This ground-breaking initiative aims to establish novel inter-disciplinary approaches to studying the ecology of infectious diseases. Important new insights into the drivers and control of infectious diseases in human populations can only be achieved by taking a holistic systems approach which takes into account the ways in which the natural and social environments affect the emergence (emergence, re-emergence, and development of drug resistance) and spread of infectious disease. This new paradigm will enable us to respond proactively to the threat from novel pathogens and emerging infections.

Since most emerging infections are zoonotic, we are particularly keen to better understand the animal reservoir as a source of infectious diseases and how animal pathogens spill-over into human populations and spread through communities in the UK or other parts of the world.

Objectives

The vision for this initiative is the establishment of truly interdisciplinary teams of researchers, conducting high quality state-of-the-art innovative research, addressing national/international research priorities that will inform and impact on policy and practice. The programme will be phased, with support for proposal preparation:

  • Workshop (9 October 2009) to facilitate interaction between researchers from different backgrounds.
  • Phase I - Catalyst Grants (call closed 16 December 2009) to enable the development of new interdisciplinary partnerships and research ideas.
  • Phase II - Research Consortia Grants (call closed 16 March 2011) to fund interdisciplinary teams of researchers conducting high quality innovative research, developed during Phase I.

ZELS

Through ESEI, NERC have also been able to contribute to the programme Zoonoses & Emerging Livestock Systems (ZELS): Reducing the risk to livestock and people. ZELS is a joint research initiative between DFID, BBSRC, ESRC, MRC, NERC and Dstl. This programme has the purpose to make a step change in the research evidence available to inform decision makers on how to minimise the health risks associated with the rapidly changing nature of livestock systems in developing countries, focusing on those risks which impact on the livelihoods and health of poor people. The key aims are:

  • To reduce the impact of zoonoses on poor people and their livestock. The initiative recognises that priorities for endemic, new and/or (re)-emerging zoonotic diseases may vary from region to region. It will address the problem of zoonoses by generating high quality research in technical and policy areas.
  • To forge mutually-beneficial inter- and multi-disciplinary partnerships between researchers in the UK and developing countries that create trans-national added value through meaningful intellectual collaboration, and enhance the scientific capabilities of southern partners for the longer term.
  • To make a step change in the research evidence available to inform decision makers on how to minimise the health risks associated with the rapidly changing nature of livestock systems in developing countries, focusing on those risks which impact on the livelihoods and health of poor people.

Timing

2009 - 2017

Can I apply for a grant?

There are no funding calls currently open on this programme.

Budget

Approximately £10 million in total, £4 million from NERC.

Programme awards

Three research consortia grants have been funded:

ZELS

11 projects have been funded as part of ZELS. - external link

The following documents and links are related to or give more information about this programme.

EEHI/ESEI Communication Plan 2012-2016 (PDF, 248KB)